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394991 tn?1214259507

Anxiety without anxious thoughts

Is it possible to have physical effects of panic or anxiety without any anxious thoughts? I ask because I can't drive because every time I get behind the wheel (as well as when I'm a passenger) I get these weird sensations.  I feel like my brain can't keep up with my eyes and my brain is getting overwhelmed and jumbled. This makes me feel like my brain is going to shut down; like I'm going to pass out.  (Scary feeling when driving).

I have seen many therapists and psychologists, but I feel like they have this set repertoire of how to deal with driving anxiety, and they try to use those with me, but I don't fit the mold and they're not getting that.  I don't have anxious thoughts about being in a car. It doesn't scare me and I'm not afraid I'm going to have a panic attack. I'm afraid my brain IS going to shut down because that is the sensation that I'm getting. And it's not that I feel the sensation and then it comes. It is there. Every time I get in the car.  It is the physical feeling first, and then the anxiety.  (Who could drive feeling like that??)  

It's this feeling that what I am viewing is warped. It looks like it is on a movie screen, not from my eyes. I know this is a symptom of disassociation, but I can't break it. Averting my eyes, blinking, etc. does not help.  

I have tried anti-anxiety drugs, beta-blockers, relaxation techniques, desensitization, hypnosis and nothing has worked :-(  I am going to a lady today to try EMDR.

I have had people tell me this IS anxiety, I have had people tell me this is NOT anxiety and something else physically wrong with my, perhaps my eyes or something.  

How do I know if this IS anxiety or not? How do I deal with this when doctors don't understand and keep trying to treat me like all their other patience-- ones who have driving anxiety AND anxious thoughts about driving??  

If you can, please help.  I am so desperate. I am only 28 and I can't NOT drive ever again.

5 Responses
535294 tn?1219933712
I believe you can have the feelings associated with anxiety without having any current anxious thoughts. My situation is not like yours in that it doesn't affect my ability to perform a task, such as driving, but there are some mornings I wake up and my heart is racing and I feel the panic coming on...and I cannot explain why. It even happens during times when I am feeling that my life couldn't get any better.
Did you have a bad experience in a car, either as a driver or a passenger in the past that might be affecting you subconciously?
What type of anti-anxiety drugs have you tried?
394991 tn?1214259507
I should also add that I don't have any other physical effects.  I don't feel sweaty, like my heart is pounding, etc.  Just this weird visual sensation.  

The drugs I have tried are Zoloft (low dose), Inderol (beta-blocker), and Xanax.  
Avatar universal
Hi! I think I can relate to you here - I've been suffering anxiety for the past couple of months now (although, I DO feel I'm possibly getting over the worst of it with help from my beta-blockers!) I get these sensations in my head all the time and as you say, they seem to just appear, even when your not even having any anxious thoughts! :-(  I think mine come from the fact that I have a bad anxiety incase I have a brain tumour etc...  I couldn't even tell you what brought these thoughts on, but it's horrible.  When I get these feelings, they seem to appear when I'm out shopping, on the bus, sitting in the house etc... Mostly when I'm on my own, and I reckon this is because I panic just incase something badhappens to me and there's noone to help me, or nowhere I can escape to!  It really does sound like you could be suffering from anxiety - not necessarily about driving though, it really could be anything and it's such a nasty thing that it literally does just creep up on you! Hope thishelps a bit.  Shelley
535294 tn?1219933712
It's hard to stay if it's anxiety or something else....I've been on Paxil and Prozac, neither of which helped me at all. Xanax is the only thing that helps me, I've been on it almost 7 years now. My only physical effects are a racing heart, pounding in my chest, and a complete inability to concentrate on anything other than my own anxiety...even if I don't know why its there at the time.
Maybe you're problem isn't physical or a medical condition, may therapy or counseling might help?
I wish I could be more help....good luck!
480448 tn?1426952138
My personal opinion is that is IS anxiety...just a more vague generalized kind.  Most of us with anxiety related to driving have very specific "what if's" that we run thru our minds...ie..."what if I wreck?...what if I hit traffic?.....what if I get stuck on a bridge?...etc"

What YOU are saying is that you don't have those specific thoughts, which I can surely see would cause you to question whether or not it is anxiety.  Thing is...in my opinion....you still have a FEAR, it is just less vague...but you are still having an anxiety response (ie...the "odd" way you feel when you get in the car or start to drive).  You are basically fearing the PRESENCE of that feeling that makes you uncomfortable.

This quote of yours is especially telling:

*I'm afraid my brain IS going to shut down because that is the sensation that I'm getting. And it's not that I feel the sensation and then it comes. It is there. Every time I get in the car.  It is the physical feeling first, and then the anxiety.  (Who could drive feeling like that??)   *

So...deep down...you ARE feeling that feeling you get...and in reality, it matters not which comes first...the sensation or the worry.....bottom line is you are expecting and anticipating that feeling...even if you aren't aware of it.  You might not have a real severe anxiety/panic response...but it is there is some form, b/c you are obviously concerned about it, understandably.

Driving is a big source of problems for a LOT of us anxiety sufferers, b/c one of our worst fears is NOT being in 100% control (like you feel you are NOT when having anxiety or panic attacks)...and what is the worst place imaginable to NOT be completely in control?  Well, behind the wheel of a multi-ton vehicle of course.

It seems like you are trying a few different things therapy-wise to treat this, which is great.  Maybe just dive into it head first, accept that it is anxiety, and then maybe the treatment would be more effective?  Just a guess.  Obviously, if you haven't had a medical work-up, or your eyes checked....by all means...do so...for peace of mind.  If that all comes back a-ok...then maybe addressing the possible anxiety wholeheartedly will finally start bringing you some results.

Just my opinion...but it surely sounds like anxiety to me....just a bit more vague than some of us experience (which hey...might be a good thing for you in the end...it may be more responsive to treatment).  I think the answer is just going to be slightly harder to find...b/c you are going to likely have to dig a bit deeper to explore exactly WHAT your fear is...and if it is originating from somewhere.

Best of luck....keep us updated, okay?
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